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NPD: Consumers Balk At Buying Traditional CE Products Online


Even as the incidence
of web-shopping increases, many U.S. consumers remain
reluctant to purchase certain consumer electronics
products online, according to a new report from
The NPD Group.

Even after using the web to find out more about
those products NPD’s “E-commerce and Consumer
Electronics: Online Shopping & Purchasing” report
reveals that televisions are the fourth most-likely item
that consumers research online prior to purchasing
(56 percent). However, it’s the least likely electronics
product that consumers would actually purchase online
(19 percent).

Smartphones also showed a much higher level of research
vs. buying online: while 52 percent of consumers
would seek out information about smartphones on
the web, just 23 percent could imagine themselves
going online to purchase one. In contrast more people
(66 percent) do both their research (66 percent) and
expect to make an actual purchase (34 percent) online
for PCs then for any other CE device.

“It’s not surprising to see that so many consumers
won’t buy TVs, smartphones, and other popular CE
products online, despite using the Internet to perform
basic product research,” said Stephen Baker, industry
analysis VP for NPD. “Computers and other IT products
have a much longer history online with a wider
variety of outlets, including direct sales from manufacturers,
for consumers to choose from.”

Top consumer electronics products consumers
were “extremely” or “very likely” to purchase online, included
the following: computer software, computers
34 percent; e-readers, 32 percent; digital cameras,
computer accessories/peripherals, 30 percent; tablets,
29 percent; printers, 24 percent; Smartphone/
mobile phones, 23 percent; camcorders, Blu-ray players,
21 percent; home audio, 20 percent; and TVs, 19

“Part of consumers’ unwillingness to purchase certain
electronics online might be due to a lack of awareness,
or as a result of the slow pace taken by many
traditional CE companies establishing a direct-toconsumer
buying presence on the web, or it could be
something inherent in the products themselves, such
as price or complexity,” Baker said.

According to Baker, “Retailers continue to have an
edge with consumers, when they can leverage their
physical storefronts with a strong online presence.” In
fact more than three-quarters (76 percent) of all consumers
said they have used a retailer’s website to research
a potential purchase, compared with just 62
percent for manufacturer-direct shoppers and 65 percent
for online-only shoppers.

Reinforcing consumers comfort with a multichannel
approach to gathering information, NPD’s data shows
that using retailers’ stores and websites are among the
top five activities consumers do first, when they begin
to consider purchasing consumer electronics.

Information in NPD’s “E-commerce and Consumer
Electronics: Online Shopping & Purchasing” report
is based on online surveys fielded in June 2011 to a
representative sample of 1,326 panelists from NPD’s
online panel. Results were balanced to represent the
U.S. adult population.